Philip Sholtz

All articles by Philip Sholtz

 

Environmental Groups Urge Illinois State Legislature to Take Action Regarding Coal Ash Ponds

A report, authored by the Environmental Integrity Project, Earth justice, Prairie Rivers Network, and the Sierra Club, found that groundwater near 90 percent of reporting Illinois coal ash sites contain toxic pollutants like arsenic, cobalt, and lithium. The report’s results are based on data sets made public for the first time earlier this year as part of new federal regulations of coal ash, a toxic byproduct of coal-fired power generation that is commonly stored in unlined ponds or landfills near
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Common Ground Found in Attempt to Limit Release of Ethylene Oxide Used for Sterilization

In a rare showing of bipartisanship before the mid-term elections, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, and Robert Berlin, a Republican State’s Attorney for DuPage County, filed a lawsuit seeking to place limits on emissions of ethylene oxide from a plant owned by Sterigenics U.S., LLC. The lawsuit alleges that the plant has released dangerous levels of the gas for over a decade. Ethylene oxide is a potent gas used to sterilize medical instruments, pharmaceutical drugs and food. “We
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The Art of the Deal? New EPA Administrator shaves $30 million from clean-up costs for nuclear waste near underground landfill fire in suburban St. Louis.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced its final plan for the West Lake Landfill in suburban St. Louis. As we’ve previously reported, West Lake Landfill is the site of illegally dumped nuclear waste that is buried near a long-smoldering underground fire. Approximately a decade ago, the EPA announced a cap-and-monitor proposal for the site. However, that plan was met with such resistance that it was withdrawn and a new proposal was announced earlier this year. That plan, with an
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EPA Releases Report Linking Sterilizing Chemical to Increased Risk of Cancer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that a suburban area in Willowbrook, Illinois is facing a risk of cancer over nine times the national average due to contamination by ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide has been used for decades as fumigant to sterilize heat-sensitive medical equipment and other goods. The volatile, easily absorbed chemical has been recognized as a carcinogen since 1985. In December 2016, the EPA released a re-assessment linking it more conclusively to breast and blood cancer.
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Temperatures And Enforcement Actions On The Rise In The Garden State

New Jersey state officials are moving forward with plans to increase environmental enforcement lawsuits. In what he described as a “new day,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the filing of six separate lawsuits on August 1, 2018. In a statement, Attorney General Grewal said “We’re sending a message to every company across the state: if you pollute our natural resources, we’re going to make you pay.” Three of the lawsuits are aimed at recovering damages for the harm caused by
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Department of Interior in Need of a Paddle? Lawsuit filed over approval of mines in Boundary Waters Canoe Area

A coalition of nine Minnesota businesses and an environmental group filed suit in federal court in Washington, D.C. against the U.S. Department of the Interior challenging its decision to reinstate federal mineral rights leases for the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area near Ely, Minnesota. The lawsuit alleges the Department of the Interior exceeded its authority and poses an immediate threat to businesses, the environment and the region’s outdoor recreation economy. The plaintiffs include four
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Out of the Sludge Pond and into the Fire? Tractor Accident Leads to Spill of 10 million Gallons of Orange-Tinted Water

An industrial accident last month at the Hi-Crush mine in Whitehall, Wisconsin is shaping-up to have some potentially significant environmental effects. A contractor’s bulldozer slid into a deep settling basin at the mine in western Wisconsin, leading to an hours-long effort to rescue the man from a 15-foot-deep pond. Rescuers freed the driver after emptying an estimated 10 million gallons of water from the pond into a Trempealeau River tributary. The settling basin contained a large amount of sludge- water,
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Extra-Terrestrial? Illinois Attorney General to File Suit Over Emission Controls in Wisconsin

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has announced she plans to file a lawsuit challenging a recently issued ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While lawsuits involving environmental regulations between individual states and the federal government are becoming increasingly prevalent, this suit is noteworthy as it involves a manufacturing facility being built by Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn) just north of the Illinois border in southeast Wisconsin. The Taiwanese company plans to build flat-screen display panels at the factory and
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There Goes the Neighborhood — New Study Links Oil and Gas Facilities Near Residential Areas to Increased Health Risks

The Colorado School of Public Health has released a study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, which claims that people living near oil and gas facilities may be subject to a higher risk of cancer and other diseases. The study was focused on residents of Colorado’s northern Front Range, an area of Colorado experiencing an increase in both human population and development of oil and gas resources. The researchers took air samples from multiple sites in Northern Colorado
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Cutting out the CARBs: EPA Administrator Suggests Possible Split with California on Emission Standards

Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recently discussed a broad range of issues in an interview with Bloomberg TV. Chief among those, Pruitt stated that the EPA is opposed to setting stricter fuel economy standards beyond 2025 and has questioned whether individual states should be able to enact their own tougher emissions rules for cars and light trucks. Pruitt said that California, which has a waiver under the 1970 Clean Air Act giving it authority to
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Can You Dig Half a Hole? EPA Proposes Partial Excavation at St. Louis Radioactive Landfill

In the early 1970s, a contractor for a uranium producer illegally dumped about 8,700 tons of uranium-processing waste at the West Lake Landfill in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Originally placed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1990, the landfill is regarded as one of the most complex Superfund sites because it sits next to another landfill where an underground fire smolders. The landfill was targeted for “immediate, intense action” by the EPA Superfund Task Force in December 2017. The
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Cutting the Red Tape: EPA Moves to Shorten Approval Process for New Products

The Environmental Protection Agency has altered its approach to assessing new chemicals for health and environmental hazards, resulting in streamlining the safety review process that had been criticized as too slow and cumbersome. Under the new approach, the EPA will no longer require that manufacturers offering new chemicals sign legal agreements that restrict the chemicals use under certain conditions. Those agreements, known as consent orders, will still be required if the EPA believes that the manufacturer’s intended use for a
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Paddling Upstream — Lawsuit Looking to Recognize the Rights of the Colorado River Dismissed

A novel approach to finding a plaintiff meets a quick end. In September 2017, an environmental group filed a lawsuit in Colorado federal court. That lawsuit sought to force the State of Colorado to “protect and defend” the Colorado River ecosystem. While that action itself is not original in any sense, the named plaintiff was. The suit claimed it was filed on behalf of “The Colorado River Ecosystem.” Undeterred by the fact that the Colorado River is not a person,
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Rounding Up a Posse? Industry Groups and Manufacturers Fight Back Against California Listing World’s Most Heavily-Used Agricultural Chemical a ‘Carcinogen’

Glyphosate is sprayed on more than 200 types of crops across four million acres in California, making it the most widely used herbicide in the state, according to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Globally, it’s available in hundreds of generic formulations from numerous companies, and accounts for 25 percent of all pesticide use worldwide. Glyphosate is a relatively simple molecule and breaks down easily. It works by targeting an enzyme found in plants, but not found in humans or
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The Empire Strikes Back? Oil Interests Make Push Against Pro-Biofuels Appointments to the USDA

Midwestern agriculture interests were concerned when former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was appointed to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Gov. Perdue was the first Southerner to be appointed to head the USDA since 1994. The majority of the recent U.S. agriculture secretaries have come from the Midwest, including former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. The Midwest has been able to rely on the USDA to help support its interests in biofuels, an increasingly important
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Scrapping the Scrubbers — Illinois EPA Proposes Wholesale Changes to the Pollution Limits for Coal Plants

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has announced new rule proposals for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from coal plants. The proposed amendments to the state’s Multi-Pollutant Strategy would limit sulfur dioxide emissions to 55,000 tons per year and limit nitrogen oxide emissions to 25,000 tons per year. The Multi-Pollutant Standard, or “MPS,” was originally negotiated between power companies and Illinois in 2006. Under the MPS, the power companies agreed to install pollution control equipment for sulfur dioxide, mercury and
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Hurricane Irma Presents Different Challenges than Hurricane Harvey in the Wake of Recovery

While the recovery efforts are still unfolding, scientists and environmental experts believe the environmental toll from Hurricane Irma in Florida may not be as harsh as the problems caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The two storms have resulted in hazards that are very different, leading to varied responses to the destruction left by both storms. Wind damage is the primary concern after Hurricane Irma, rather than the widespread flooding seen after Hurricane Harvey. In addition, the areas of Florida
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Grapes of Wrath: California State Agency Acts to Further Restrict Use of Chlorpyrifos

On August 18, 2017, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) released an updated draft risk assessment for comments by the public on the popular agricultural pesticide chlorpyrifos. Farmers use chlorpyrifos to kill pests that attack a wide variety of crops including grapes, walnuts, oranges, almonds and cotton grown in California. In 2015, California farmers used more than 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos on more than 60 crops. About 5 million to 10 million pounds of chlorpyrifos are used annually on
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Illinois Digs Nuclear? Federal Court Upholds Illinois State Subsidies to Nuclear Power Plants

The State of Illinois recently passed the Future Energy Jobs Act and created a “zero emission credit” program to subsidize nuclear power generation and corresponding sales of nuclear power in the energy market. The statute grants zero emission credits to certain qualifying energy-generating facilities, specifically, several nuclear power plants owned by Exelon in Illinois. Utilities that sell electricity to consumers must purchase zero emission credits from the qualifying power plants, and those utilities then pass the costs of the zero
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Di-can’t-a? Three Midwestern States Act to Limit the Use of Dicamba

On July 14, 2017, Tennessee joined Arkansas and Missouri in limiting the use of dicamba. Dicamba is an herbicide used to combat broadleaf weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides. The use of dicamba has increased significantly since the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of dicamba on soybeans and cotton that are genetically modified to tolerate the chemical. Older formulations of dicamba had been reported to drift after application and affect other crops
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Slow the Flow? U.S. District Court orders Army Corps of Engineers to Reconsider Environmental Analysis of the Dakota Access Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a pipeline built by Energy Transfer Partners to move oil from western North Dakota to Illinois, where it can be shipped to the Gulf Coast and points beyond. The Army Corps of Engineers approved the completion of the DAPL on February 8, 2017. The DAPL began operating June 1, 2017 and has the capacity to move half of North Dakota’s daily oil production. In the summer of 2016, the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River
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Where There’s Fire, There’s Not Always Smoke. EPA Finds No Radioactive Contamination at Homes Near Suburban St. Louis Landfill

The Environmental Protection Agency declared a landfill near St. Louis, Missouri containing Manhattan Project waste has not contaminated nearby homes with radioactive materials. Approximately 40 years ago, waste materials from the Manhattan Project were buried in the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, a St. Louis suburb. The discovery of an underground fire at the nearby Bridgeton Landfill has led to the lawsuits alleging that radioactive materials could be polluting nearby residential neighborhoods. In November 2016, Robbin and Mike Dailey filed
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Paper Beats Rock? Illinois Legislature Entertaining Dueling Bills on Rock Quarry Water Monitoring

As the clock winds down on the 2017 legislative session, the Illinois legislature is currently debating over two diametrically opposed bills regarding the proper testing to be done on the groundwater surrounding reclaimed rock quarries. Representative Margo McDermed, a Republican, has sponsored legislation that would require groundwater monitoring around quarries that are being used to store construction waste. Under current Illinois Environmental Protection Agency regulations, concrete free of steel reinforcement bars, rock, stone, brick, and asphalt from sites where buildings
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